Dear NOAH Members and Friends of Arts in Health,
The decision I am most proud of NOAH for making, at its first board retreat in June of 2016, was to look to the field for guidance and to inform priorities. We spent our first year conducting surveys and focus groups, while celebrating and advocating for the field. We then commissioned the white paper “Arts, Health and Well-Being in America”, released in September 2017 to serve as a grounding on where we are in America and where we need to focus our energy. We’ve used our annual conference, first in September 2017 and coming up in October 2018, as a major focal point for projects to be reported, publications to be released, programs to be profiled and shared, and to “serve and advance the field” with our membership. The concluding recommendations from the white paper have dictated our work and include:
1. Creation of a New National Structure and Strategy for the Arts, Health, and Well-Being Arena to Coalesce:
To realize this recommendation, we are organizing a Leadership Summit, bringing together professionals in human resources, nursing, patient experience, philanthropy, community health, public policy, and research, among other disciplines. Together we will explore challenges and priorities healthcare facilities and communities face and how the arts can be used to enhance health and wellbeing. Our diverse group of stakeholders, representing the broad and diverse leadership charged with making decisions to influence the future of healthcare in America, will review the recommendations contained in the NOAH white paper, identify the strategic next steps we can take to improve accessibility and outcomes across related fields, and draft a strategic plan that can guide the field over the next three to five years.
NOAH Board Vice-Chair Naj Wikoff is leading this effort, which has successfully raised the required funds via support from The Westreich Foundation, Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine, and Kaiser Permanente, and secured a presenting partner in Georgetown University and the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. The discussion will be facilitated by Janet Brown, former President & CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts. Gay Hanna will document the meeting and author a white paper report to be ready for release and discussion during our conference in October.
2. Development of a Meta-Analysis of Existing Research, Programs, and Resources:
This is something NOAH and NOAH’s Research Committee, headed by NOAN Board Member Ferol Carytsas, have dedicated much quality time and effort. We are learning from institutions who have made research a priority, investigating how research journals, libraries, universities, and hospitals facilitate research information, and exploring what institutions have already developed databases, how they work, and how they might be effectively shared. We’ve heard exciting developments from a comprehensive interagency arts in health initiative in Rhode Island which has brought together representatives from their state health agencies, universities, and arts council, to address the impact of the arts on statewide health priorities. We are excited to have them presenting this wonderful model of collaboration and their database of research at our conference in October.
We continue to work on building both open and member-exclusive resources on our NOAH website, and are actively building partnerships that will provide our members and the field a centralized introduction to research, how to utilize, interpret and conduct research, and how to identify where gaps in research exist for the field of Arts in Health. We are happy that Dr. Francois Bethoux, The Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Arts and Medicine Institute, is taking a leadership role in the descriptive text and recommendations. We are also pleased there will be sessions on research prominently featured at the October conference.
3. Formation of National Standards, Training, and Certification of Professional Artists, Healthcare Arts Administrators and Healthcare Arts Consultants:
This is a very important area. Right now, most hospitals create their own policies, or rely on policies not specifically designed for arts in health, to manage artists working in environments of care. We are creating a comprehensive policy where I work at Houston Methodist that is being developed in collaboration with our team of music therapists, project specialists in music and visual arts and executive leadership. For the most part, artists in our system contribute in community areas of the hospitals, although we’re developing more and more structured ways for artists to coordinate with music therapists to leverage results, like a recent residency with the Houston Grand Opera in the Psychiatric Clinic with Music Therapists Audry Zybura and Jennifer Townsend, and expanding our community reintegration opportunities for patients of the in-patient rehabilitation clinic with the Ermelinda Cuellar jazz trio and music therapist Jonathan Silbert – attached find a link to a Houston Grand Opera Video made after the residency experience and an image of a recent session with artists and therapists in a public area of the hospital. BUT, I can only speak for how this particular hospital addresses the work of artists in environments of care, and am glad that NOAH is working on coordinating national standards and endorsing further professionalization that all administrators can refer to and feel confident in.
NOAH is looking at what has been done by the previous task forces of the representative national organization, going back to the Society for Arts in Health, and putting dedicated time into fully developing and endorsing a set of professional standards of practice and code of ethics for artists working in health settings. I believe we have done wonderful work in this area through NOAH and NOAH’s Professionalization Committee, headed by NOAH Board Member Ari Albright. NOAH members and representatives of the field will review these items first through a survey in July, so that they can share thoughts and opinions with us before we move to finalize and publish for release at the October Conference.
As an extension to the third recommendation, we are pleased to also be working with a group of experts around the nation and the University of Oregon on an Arts in Healthcare Administrators Handbook, which will be the focus of one of our preconference sessions on October 7. The conference will also be the launch for the handbook as a whole, which will be a significant tool for the development, professionalization, coordination, and management of arts in health programs. It will offer an update to the 2009 SAH handbook and exist as a living document on the NOAH website. Information in that handbook will also be valuable in contributing to further professionalization efforts planned for artists and administrators working in healthcare.
Finally, in our continued effort “to serve and advance the field of arts in health,” we have established a Regional Network Committee. The first committee meeting was held at the end of June, and I am happy to report that the meeting was attended by representatives of 11 different states. Three groups were chosen to pilot regional networks, which will begin first by conducting regional needs assessments. NOAH is exploring how best to help foster these networks by examining a variety of national network models in and out of the arts. There will be an “ask the expert” and a “breakfast roundtable” session at the conference and NOAH will be reporting regional network progress on its website. This effort is being led by NOAH Board member Dr. Alan Siegel.
Speaking of the NOAH website, we have a new membership platform that allows members to update their profile, add photos, search a national map and directory for other programs, send NOAH their good news and job opportunities, and add events to the national arts in health event calendar.
I hope that you are pleased with NOAH’s progress and the increasing value of NOAH membership, which includes receipt of our regular newsletter, progress reports such as this letter, and much more listed at thenoah.net/membership. I look forward to speaking with you personally at our annual conference in October, which will include our first formal business meeting for NOAH members, and for the latest information on NOAH, sponsorship opportunities, and becoming a member, please visit thenoah.net/ or send an email to Katie White-Swanson at [email protected].
President, National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH)
Director, System Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM)